The online casino laws of the European Union are supposed to create fair and standard regulations throughout most of Europe. In reality, the EU has a hard time enforcing its standards with countries that aren’t always keen to comply.
When it comes to online gambling in Europe, the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) and the European Commission (EC) have each tried to impose their own will on the individual states in the European Union. While those regulatory agencies have had their share of victories, most national leaders continue to develop policy according to their own whims. On some occasions the European Union will get involved in the enforcement of international gaming standards (or at least it tries to), but most of the gaming laws are handled at the national level. The European Union is made up of 28 different countries, each of which has its own ideas about what online gambling in Europe should consist of.
European Gaming and Betting Association
The European Gaming and Betting Association is an organization created in 2007 to implement a regulated market for online gambling operators in Europe. The idea behind the EGBA was to create a fair and competitive gaming market with common laws governing each involved country. While some standardization has happened, there is still a long way to go before the EGBA is able to completely govern online gambling in Europe. The EGBA counts Bet365 as one of its members, along with other recognized online casinos.
ARJEL in France
In France, the Autorité de régulation des jeux en ligne (ARJEL), which translates to the “Regulatory Authority for Online Games,” is the country’s regulating body for online gambling. ARJEL saw its inception in 2010 to create a set of regulations that online casinos must follow. When ARJEL began its activities, French ISP providers were reluctant to follow their directives. However, the Tribunal de grande instance de Paris (the High Court of Paris) explicitly told ISPs they must follow ARJEL’s regulations. In fact, many online casinos have tried to operate in France without adhering to ARJEL’s ISP rules and have seen their access to the country’s gamblers blocked by firewalls.
German Gambling Laws
In Germany, the laws are made by the complex federal system. Online gambling has been outlawed since 2008. However, EGBA challenged the law, claiming it favored German companies and was therefore a violation of international laws. This led to the 2012 Interstate Treaty on Gambling (ISTG) with one state, Schleswig Holstein, opting out and creating its own more liberal online casino laws. As of yet, online gambling in Germany has yet to be legalized with the exception of a few dozen or so operators who have license to operate in Schleswig Holstein. So, please be careful if you are a German citizen and want to visit an online casino. Make sure it is licensed, reputable and doesn’t violate any German online gambling laws.
Spanish Online Casinos
Online gambling in Europe involves online casinos for the Spanish market. The Directorate General of the Regulation of Gambling (DGOJ) is responsible for the most recent changes to Spain’s online gaming industry. In Spain, online gambling is legal with online casinos and poker sites from the EU being allowed to operate in the country as long as they are properly licensed.
Italy’s Internet Gaming Laws
Italy has one of the more liberal and regulated online gaming laws in Europe. The Agenzia delle dogane e dei Monopoli (ADM) is the sole regulator of gambling functions in the country. The Italian gaming market is still evolving but online casinos, as long as they are licensed properly, can operate freely.
United Kingdom Betting Regulations
Online casinos are big business in the United Kingdom. It’s such a major market that we gave the U.K. its own online casino page. Make your Brexit to the U.K. online gambling page here.
Dutch Gaming Laws
The Dutch are known for their liberal laws and views on marijuana and sex but when it comes to online gambling, it took them awhile to finally understand that online casinos aren’t hurting their economy. Online gambling is legal in the Netherlands and the government has recently dropped its tax rate on profits from online gambling from 29 percent to 20 percent, allowing the industry to flourish.
Scandinavian Online Gaming Laws
Sweden has an open attitude toward online gambling, for the most part. Swedish online software companies like NetEnt, Boss Media and Yggdrasil are active, while individual casinos like Unibet and Betsson are major players. A few other casinos such as Mr Green & Co. are also gaining in the market.
In Finland, all gaming activities require a license, including online casino operations. Norway has a negative attitude toward gambling, including internet wagers. A couple of land-based Norwegian gaming companies are allowed a duopoly, with no one else legally allowed to take bets. Norsk Tipping is a government-sponsored legal online casino and one of only two sites that Norwegians can use to play online.
Casinos in the Baltic States
In the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, online casino gambling is a big hit. When the three tiny countries were part of the Soviet Union, all gambling was banned. Since then, Estonia and Latvia have taken a more pragmatic view toward gambling, though their pro-gaming laws only came about in the 21st century. Both Latvia and Estonia are home to live dealer gaming studios with many of the leading companies hosting their live blackjack, baccarat, roulette and craps from casino studios in those countries. Foreign online casinos can operate in the Baltic states as long as they are licensed.
Eastern European Gaming
In the former Warsaw Pact nations, gambling is a mixed bag. Hungary has been targeted for its protectionist laws when it comes to gambling. The EGBA might one day force changes but for the time being, international gaming companies have a hard time signing up Hungarians. As for Poland, their online casino laws only came into effect in 2017. The law states that licensed international sportsbooks can only offer sports betting, and casino games can only be offered by the country’s one designated gambling monopoly. Before that, online gambling was banned. Ukraine banned all forms of gambling in 2009. However, there are designated gaming zones that were created to give citizens and tourists some legal land-based casinos and poker rooms to play in. Finally, the Czech Republic allows foreign online casinos to operate in the country as long as they are licensed.
Online Gambling in Greece
Once a haven for online gaming companies, Greece has now adopted a prohibition-type stance against online casinos. With online casinos being banned in the country, several of the top gaming companies had to set up shop in other places outside of Greece. At first, the government seemed to be preparing for a Greek gaming monopoly that would allow online casinos to operate as long as they were licensed and not created by a foreign company. However, this never came to fruition and gambling is only permitted inside the walls of a casino. If you are caught visiting an online casino in Greece, the government considers you to be committing a criminal act, so please be careful.
European Gaming Jurisdictions
Gibraltar, Malta, Cyprus, Alderney and the Isle of Man are prime licensing authorities for online gambling in Europe. Most of these countries have ties to the British Empire or the Commonwealth of Nations. Each jurisdiction is supposed to comply with the European Market trading laws.